STUART, FL – October 12, 2020 – According to the TCPalm.com, a man from Hobe Sound, Florida was charged with Boating Under the Influence (BUI) after law enforcement officers responded to an accident scene where the man lost control over his boat and the unmanned boat crashed and caused property damage. The 47-year-old BUI suspect was arrested and charged with violating Florida’s administrative code for catching and possessing an undersized cobia and BUI.
According to the news report, sheriff's deputies were called to the scene of the accident at approximately 7 p.m. As the deputies arrived at the scene, the deputies stated that they found the suspect and two other boat passengers had fallen from the suspect’s 24-foot boat. The two men who were with the suspect at the time of the accident stated to the deputies that they were taking photos just prior to falling out of the boat.
A Sheriff's Office helicopter was following the suspect’s boat and video recorded the boat as it moved along the ocean at what was described as a “high rate of speed,” and then striking a concrete dock close to the 1500 block of St. Lucie Boulevard. The suspect’s unmanned boat then jumped and struck another dock and came to a stop.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission arrest report asserts that the suspect, the original driver of the boat, had “glassy, bloodshot, watery eyes” and he was unsteady on his feet. The law enforcement officers also allege that they could smell alcohol on the suspect’s breath. The law enforcement officers gave the suspect two breath tests, which returned results of blood-alcohol levels of 0.129 and then a high level of 0.132. Both levels were greater than the Florida legal limit of 0.08. Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission officials allege that the suspect failed the standardized sobriety tests and the suspect also displayed several signs that he was intoxicated.
The suspect’s arrest affidavit reported that one of the two passengers sustained a leg injury from the accident. The suspect and his other passenger was unharmed.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission officials stated that the boat was removed from the accident scene and was towed away. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission said that the investigation is ongoing.
The suspect was transported to the county jail. He posted a $750 bail bond and was released several hours later.
Boating Under the Influence Laws in Florida
Florida is without a doubt an ideal and popular spot for boating, for both residents and tourists alike. Many people who enjoy this recreational activity often view it as a chance to kick back and enjoy a few or more alcoholic beverages. However, did you know that you can be arrested and charged with the crime of boating under the influence of alcohol in Florida?
Florida law provides that you can be found guilty of boating under the influence if you are operating a boat, or vessel in Florida and you are impaired by alcohol or drugs to the extent that you cannot normally function, or if your blood or breath alcohol concentration is 0.08 percent or more. For anyone under the age of twenty-one, it is illegal to operate a boat with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.02 percent. Of course, this means that the State has to prove that you were impaired and actually the one operating the boat at the time you were stopped by law enforcement.
Boating under the influence has many of the same consequences as if you were convicted of driving a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol. A first conviction of boating under the influence with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 percent or more can result in a fine between $500 and $1,000, and jail time of up to six months. A second conviction has penalties including a fine between $1,000 and $2,000, and up to nine months of imprisonment. Convictions for a third violation within ten years of a prior conviction is considered a third degree felony, where penalties can include a fine of up to $5,000, and jail time of up to five years. Also, like driving under the influence, boating under the influence penalties can be more severe depending on whether your blood alcohol concentration was 0.15 percent or higher, or whether you caused property damage, or serious injury or death to another.
However, unlike penalties for a driving under the influence conviction, a BUI conviction can also result in the immobilization or impoundment of your boat for a certain period of time. In addition, it is important to note that while law enforcement can conduct a stop of your boat if they have reason to believe that you are violating a boating regulation or if you are speeding, they can also conduct random inspections of your boat to ensure you are complying with fishing or safety regulations. Thus, in order to stop your boat, a law enforcement officer does not necessarily need the probable cause necessary for a DUI stop, since they can conduct an inspection of your boat at any time and for any reason.
While it is generally legal to enjoy an alcoholic beverage or two while you are boating, and you are twenty-one or older, if the alcohol affects your ability to operate the boat, or even to talk, walk, or otherwise function normally, you can be arrested and charged with boating under the influence.
A boating under the influence conviction can have serious consequences for you and even your boat. Penalties for any BUI can include fines, jail time, and boat impoundment. If you have been arrested and charged with boating under the influence, it is important that you speak with a seasoned and experienced BUI defense attorney right away.